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Interview With Sidonie Bosin

Aired December 17, 2003 - 13:37   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Today's celebration includes honoring 100 flyers of aviation. Including flyers like Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager and Sidonie Bosin. Sidonie Bosin? Yes, Sidonie Bosin.
She may not have the fame of a Neil Armstrong or John Glenn, but she's quite a heroine for many reasons. As a Coast Guard helicopter pilot, Lieutenant Commander Bosin is on top of the world today. But where she has made her mark was at the bottom of the Earth.

Producer Vicky Russell (ph) and I meant Sidonie while working on a documentary in Antarctica. Harsh, brutal, and dangerous. That's flying in Antarctica. Brave, courageous, and incredibly smart on the instruments. That's Lieutenant Commander Sidonie Bosin. We're not surprised that she's being honored of aviation today. She's one of our heroes too. Sidonie joins us live from Kill Devil Hills. Hi, Sidonie.

SIDONIE BOSIN, U.S. COAST GUARD: Hi, Kyra, how are you doing?

PHILLIPS: It's so good to see you.

BOSIN: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: I got to get your reaction. Just naming all those names -- I mean, even President George Bush Sr. -- you're on this list with all these famous people. What do you think of that?

BOSIN: I just -- I can't believe it. I am so humbled by this experience. To meet all my childhood aviation heroes, I never expected to meet them, let alone be on the same stage with them. It's just incredible.

PHILLIPS: Let's talk about your heroes. Tell us all who inspired you to fly.

BOSIN: Well, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Chuck Yeager. All these men, they were pioneers in their field. Now, we have computers and they put everything in simulation and see if it will work.

And these men, they just launched themselves into the atmosphere, into space. And they weren't sure they were coming back. It's just amazing what they've done. And what they have laid the groundwork for, for the rest of us.

PHILLIPS: They definitely laid the groundwork for you. Right now, we're looking at videotape of you flying in Antarctica, flying me and Vicky.

I want you to put into perspective for folks why this was such a tough assignment. We'll talk about your role as a female too. Tell folks about what it's like to fly in Antarctica. We were scared and you were doing it like it was just a piece of cake.

BOSIN: Oh, thank you. Probably the biggest thing is that weather just changes in a heartbeat. You'll be flying along, and you come around a corner and the weather's totally different from what you left. You land and shut down and the weather starts to come in and by the time you can get back to the helicopter and in, your horizon has disappeared.

And so it's like flying inside a ping pong ball. There's no horizon for a reference so you're just kind of threading your way back the way you came, if the weather allows. And hoping when you get back around the corner it's going to be better than what you left.

PHILLIPS: Not only were we so impressed by the way you were able to fly, Sidonie, your professionalism, but you are the first female aircraft commander there in Antarctica. I loved watching how all the male pilots really respected you and looked up to you.

What was that like? As a female in aviation, what was it like in Antarctica and what has it been like for you in the Coast Guard?

BOSIN: It's really been great. The crew I had in Antarctica was just super. We used to joke that we were not a training command, we were just operational and everybody that showed up was on top of their game.

And being in the Coast Guard, I just -- I haven't had any problems with being a female aviator. In fact, when I applied to the Coast Guard, they didn't have the combat exclusion and anywhere the Coast Guard went and anything they did I was able to do. That just really appealed to me.

In addition, the humanitarian role, the idea of saving lives for a living, I couldn't beat that.

PHILLIPS: You saved a number of lives. You've told me so many stories that I could sit and listen to you for hours. Will you share maybe one of the most memorable stories with our viewers, of a life that you've saved?

BOSIN: Certainly. I was on a deployment in the Caribbean and nighttime -- we were called to a sailboat, about a 70-something foot sailboat north of Great Anagua (ph) that was sinking. And by the time we got on scene, the decks were pretty much awash.

And so it was a grandfather, a grandmother and a 6-year-old son. That's all we thought at the time. We had them get into a little dinghy they had and center the engine and push off. We attempted to lower a basket to them. We have a rescue basket. Our hoist operator in the back tried for -- I don't know how long. We were running short on gas. Finally -- they weren't helping us at all so we snagged the engine and it stopped the dinghy because it was moving out from underneath us at about 20 knots. And the grandmother and grandson got in, brought them up, we put it back down again, and the grandfather had been no help at all, although he had been really calm before.

And he did kind of a drop roll into it and the whole basket rolled upside down. And it sits level with the water anyway. So he went under the water and came back up. And when we brought him up to the door, my flightneck (ph) tell me, He has two dogs with him.

And he didn't want to tell us, I think, about the dogs. He didn't know we were all dog lovers and there would be no way we'd leave the dogs behind. It was amazing he didn't tell us and we were able to get them all back safely.

PHILLIPS: It's great to see you out there. I'm so glad you get to meet Miles. We salute you, for just who you are as a person and also an aviator and thank you so much for spending time with us today. We love you.

BOSIN: Oh, thank you very much, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Lieutenant Commander Sidonie Bosin, U.S. Coast Guard.


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